Illinois hospitals are one step closer to saving a program that generates a lot of money used to treat low-income patients. State lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a plan on Wednesday that revamps the so-called hospital assessment program.
Under the program, Illinois hospitals front money to take care of people with government health insurance. Federal matching payments then add $3.5 billion more.
That money is essential for so-called “safety-net hospitals,” where a majority of patients are the elderly, poor and disabled on Medicaid. Those hospitals have been urging state lawmakers to renew the program before the money dries up on July 1st.
Anne Igoe represents safety-net hospitals on the south side of Chicago.
“The longer we go without this bill being passed, the more we struggle with all of these hospitals being shut down, and that would be detrimental,” she said.
State Representative Patti Bellock, a Republican from Hinsdale, said approving the plan should keep that from happening.
“Every one of your hospitals is going to receive money. Everybody in the state of Illinois will receive good access and excellent quality of care,” she explained before the vote.
Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration helped negotiate the deal and he is expected to sign it. But before any money can start flowing, the plan still needs federal approval.
That could take up to a year, but state lawmakers say they’ve accounted for the potential delay.